Leading to a greener future

Recently elected German coalition government brings hope of possible prominence to ecological issues

Published: Thursday 31 October 2002

-- (Credit: Reuters)a nail-biting climax to the closely contested German elections saw the Gerhard Schroeder-Joschka Fischer led Social Democratic Party-Green coalition emerge victorious. Schroeder's Social Democratic Party (sdp) and Fischer's Green Party won 306 of the 603 seats in Parliament. The Christian Democratic Party (cdu)/Christian Social Union (csu), in alliance with the liberal Free Democrats (fdp) won 295 seats. The new government's lead over the cdu and the fdp was a meagre 11 seats.

In their best-ever performance, the Greens increased their share of votes by almost two points from 6.7 per cent to 8.6 per cent in four years. Poll watchers say that the Greens will have more influence in the new coalition government after their strong performance. Moreover, if anything it will widen the gap with Washington, especially on environmental issues. Many Germans responded to the Green's argument that this summer's disastrous floods should be blamed on global warming.

In tandem with their electoral agenda, soon after coming to power, the Greens pledged to give prominence to ecological issues. Fritz Kuhn, one of the party's leaders, said the keywords in the coalition agreement would be 'ecology and justice'. Analysts say that this means a sharper focus on ecofriendly transport, sustainable farming and renewable energy as well as a possible rise in energy tax.

As per their electoral agenda, the green party pledges to develop the 'ecotax' into a broader elaborate ecological reform programme and cut coal subsidies. In the energy sector they aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. All renewable forms of energy such as water, wind and solar power would be promoted.

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